Famous Migraineurs: Loretta Lynn

by Nancy Harris Bonk

Being a wife and mother of four by the time you're 18-years-old is tough enough; accomplishing this with Migraines is almost unimaginable. But Loretta Lynn did just that. Loretta Webb was born on April 14, 1934, in the Appalachian coal mining town of Butcher Hollow, Kentucky. Her father was a coal miner who worked hard, long, dangerous hours to put food in the stomachs and clothes on the backs of his large family. Loretta Webb was the second born out of eight children. Crystal Gayle, Loretta's half-sister, is also a singer and performer.

Loretta was 13 when she married Oliver "Doolittle" Lynn, a man she met at a pie social and had known for little over a month. About a year into their marriage, looking for job opportunities other than coal mining, they relocated to Washington State. The Lynn's settled in Custer, Washington, and their family grew. It was then that "Doo" really heard Loretta's voice and knew she had potential. He purchased a guitar so she could start practicing.

Raising a growing family of four, then six, left little time in Loretta's life for practice, but somehow, she managed to squeeze it in. She began singing locally and on the radio, but it wasn't until Norm Burley heard her sing on a televised talent show competition that her music career really began to take off. Burley was so impressed with Loretta's talent that he started a record label just for her - Zero Records.

Loretta recorded a few songs on the Zero label, then went on a cross-country tour to promote them. Her release, I'm a Honky Tonk Girl, managed to become a top 20 hit, and it was during this tour that she made her first of many trips to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. At some point during this tour, she met Ted and Doyle Wilburn who owned several musically associated groups and a touring revue in addition to a publishing company. The Wilburns thought she'd fit right in with the organization, and she was soon a big part of the touring and television groups. The Wilburns were able to get her released from her first record label, Zero Records, to sign on with Decca Records where she recorded her first top 10 single, Success, in 1962.

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